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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

124

Our Pregnant Week

Monday

I went in for Q-tips. But at the Walgreens, I was reminded of the persistent, recent... bigness of my boobs, and the little nuggets I’d found on my last self-exam. My insomnia had been out of control, and I'd been crying. A lot. I’d missed my period in September, but that wasn't strange. I always skip, with vague confirmations from gynecologists that my PCOS was culprit. I picked up the two-pack EPT anyway  –  plainly, I just felt eerie. I must have  known, because when I was grappling with the immutable plastic wrapper over my bathroom sink, my hands were shaking. 

The digital stick blooped an hourglass while the other, a '90s standby, spread pink to indicate it was working. Minutes later, I was howling on my living room floor, faced with a faint blue + sign in one hand, and the digital's definitive, tiny text — ‘Pregnant’ — in the other. I left the detritus of receipts, plastic, boxes and the digital test on the floor and got on my bike, the + sign burning a decision in my jacket pocket. I rode, trembling, with no cell, ID or money on me, just a pregnancy test. I hoped I wouldn't get hit in my distraction — what an awful CSI:NY opener. I marched into my friend's kitchen and laid the test on her counter, demanding she say the vertical line was too faint, that all the antibiotics I was on for chronic Lyme Disease (oh fuck, what about that?) created a false positive, that there was no way. Not a flincher by nature, she ignored that I’d basically laid a urine sample inches from her olive oil collection and we went through the facts. Jared and I had an accident the month before and I'd taken Plan B immediately, confident in its ability to perform its only role. It was the one time we'd had sex in weeks. I tried to figure out how to tell Jared. He'd be thrilled, I knew. He wanted to be a dad more than anything, and we'd been talking more and more about the future and its hypotheticals. I had to get home before him. Finding a plastic stick with the word 'Pregnant’ lying on the living room floor wasn’t an optimal way to tell him. I zoomed home, called some feminists, cried more.

Later, we were on the same couch, different planets. Jared was shocked, thrilled and confused as to why, at the other end of the sofa, I soaked my shirt with tears and snot and listed all the reasons this wouldn't work. I wasn't well yet. We had no money. We weren't ready. I wasn't ready. And now I had to make a choice, and for all the Second Sex parroting I’ve done throughout my post-undergrad life, I didn't want my freedom to choose. I wanted it just to go away, which isn't really the hallmark of pregnancy.  

I stayed up all night, guilty for disappointing him, horrified by my prospects. I couldn't have a baby. The Lyme Disease — I’m septic, inhospitable to a child. Worse, I am a child. You can't trust me. Selfish, stunted, I don't want anything that relies just on me. I had a terrible relationship with my own mother. I wasn't ready to eat carbs for the sake of another person. When the sun came up, I made an appointment with an OB/GYN to confirm the false positive. I made an appointment with my Lyme doctor, who’d say this wasn’t viable, as I’d just started a new, aggressive antibiotic protocol. My new insurance company wouldn’t cover this pre-existing condition. I’d call my father, who’d gently say this wasn't the right time. Tuesday would be full of outs! Someone would tell me what to do and none of it would be my fault.

Tuesday

No outs. I was pregnant, my blood said so. At one point, as I lay in the stirrups, the OB, Jared and I all had our iPhones out, calculating conception date based on a particular episode of This American Life. At 4.5 weeks, there was nothing on the screen, but, abstractly yes, there was a scattering of cells hanging out in my groin. At the moment they wanted nothing from me, vice versa. I didn't have to make a choice for a few weeks, she said. She also told me, with her hand on my ankle, everything I felt was normal. That motherhood was never exactly The Right Time. No out from my compassionate, impartial Lyme doc, either — plenty we could do, she said, if I wanted to keep it. Safe antibiotics, a 1% chance of passing the disease on to the baby. The insurance company? Totally fine, they said. "It’s a pre-existing condition plan," the polite but confused gentleman told me when I said he was probably wrong. "You could have 10 conditions besides Lyme and you'd be covered. Thank Obama." Jared and I sat over speakerphone as I lost another opportunity to avoid choosing.

Finally, my dad. He'd tell me what a bad idea it was. "Congratulations!" he said. Oh. Two smart, silly, creative people making a baby is a beautiful thing. We need more of that. Money would come later. For now, "It's your choice, my daughter".

No outs. Jared and I had to talk about it ourselves. I was calmer. Points and counterpoints and hours. He supported me either way. He understood the fear, as much as a man can. I asked if he'd stick by me, but we both knew he wasn't the one we needed to worry about.

Wednesday 

Began the brief period of Ambivalence with a Side of C-Cup. I told a few close friends, who had happy but restrained reactions. Jared told his parents. The concerns were equal — my health was paramount, as I was the real person here, but if there was a likelihood this would work out, what a joy this might be. I began to be infected with peoples’ love. With the sense that maybe my practical fears were a cover for insecurity. Maybe I could do it? With all the odds — the Plan B, the PCOS pessimism, Lyme, the One Time thing — maybe this little packet of cells, soon to resemble a Jordan almond, soon to resemble me and Jared, was snuggling in, sticking to my sides, sticking by me because it believed in me. I didn't have ideal health. I didn't have money. But I had love. Love is more than many mothers have. Mother? Girlfriend. Artist. Reluctant sick person. Self-centered fraud in therapy. Mother? I pored over thebump.com, a site I had visited probably as often as gunworld.com. I thought about names. I thought about how bad of a thing it would be to raise a tiny, brilliant boy to respect women, dress him in seersucker.

Thursday 

I rolled over and looked at Jared and told him we would go for it. I didn't feel good, or happy. But I knew what the right decision was. I wouldn't meet him in his cautious excitement, not yet, and asked him to be patient with me till I got there. I wasn't happy, but I was right.  He kissed me over and over. We discussed names and the benefits of baptism, which I had previously considered baby waterboarding for superstition's sake, but is apparently an effective way of preventing a baby going to limbo plus a significant dollar amount in gifts.

I dazedly filled the progesterone and prenatal vitamins prescription. I got a crash course in acronyms and hormones from a midwife standing at the pharmacy. I asked the guy at the health food store what he recommended for juicing. I looked at us from the outside — to him, I wasn’t an immature, self-indicting, scared 31 year old who had been thrust a curve ball and was trying out new dialogue on a stranger, rehearsing. I wasn’t those things — I was just a pregnant woman from the neighborhood. I rode to the park and sat by the lake, watching the dazzling reflections over the water. I called my dad and Monday's friend. She believes in miracles and said a baby is a miracle.

That night I started spotting. A rush of terror and protective love swept over me when I saw it. 

The palette I won't go into, but from what I gathered from the obsessives on the internet, this was common. Googling "spotting," I was overwhelmed by the size and inconsistencies of message boards. "It's totally normal, don't worry!," one board chirped reassuringly, the next page advising "Go to the ER immediately." I should get off my feet ASAP, plus go for a nice walk. Creeped out, I searched "miscarriage." Biologically it just happens, I learned, and also, it's God's will. Though the Internet offered such consistent insight, I still went through a roll of toilet paper that night, obsessively checking texture, color and changes. I called the OB who said to stay calm. I went from ambivalent to afraid. 

Friday

More spotting, more toilet paper, more Googling. The irony of timing gnawed. I Facebooked Tamara, a midwife friend, who wished me well, “whether this pregnancy is what brings you to motherhood or is the pregnancy that makes you realize you want to be a mother." But why would it show up at all if it wasn't going to stick around? Why would it leave me the day I told it I wanted it? Jared played bluegrass into my stomach.

Saturday

More spotting. Laid down. Jared prayed. I looked at the wall while he did it. 

Sunday

The blood became unmistakably red around 8 P.M.. I sat on the toilet and stared. I tried crying, because I figured that's what you do: that weepy trip to the toilet that 1 in 5 women take in early pregnancy. It was okay. We had gotten attached to an idea. We'd never seen a heartbeat. There was nobody even there. Still, I sat and stared. He came home around 11. His crying made me really cry. I cramped, bearably, and we watched TV. I figured we were done. 

2 A.M. it started. Blood. Pain. I couldn’t have imagined this pain. An hour later, I was too weak to get to the bathroom and could only lie on the couch, wiping myself pathetically, mounding the trashcan next to my head with red toilet paper and a little vomit. He sat next to my head, wiping blood from my hands while I pictured whirring blenders filled with shiny springs and razors inside me, of a pinball machine shooting a little ball made of fire. I saw a sickly yellow ocean. The waves would crumble into ochre parchment when a particularly bad contraction would happen. Hours. The on-call OB told a stammering, panicking Jared there was nothing we could do; the ER would give me ibuprofen. All we could do was wait it out. A natural miscarriage means endurance and certain suffering. It hurt to breathe or speak but I whispered apologies for whatever I’d done. The blood flowed black and red. Around 7 A.M., the cramps had slowed to about three minutes apiece. We got in a cab and returned to the same OB office where, not a week before, I’d sat confused and crying. But it felt like years ago.

Monday 

I sat on a cotton pad to keep from bleeding on the exam table. Her tone was the perfect physician's balance of frank and sad, and after conferring with my ultrasound, confirmed there was no longer any trace of anything. She was sorry, but reminded me that, on Tuesday, I wasn't even sure I wanted it. That we'd meet again when the time was right. Some bloodwork, to confirm my body didn’t think it was pregnant anymore — sure enough, my once-blossoming hormone levels had shrunk to numbers I now imagined as pitiful, humiliating. A failure. We went home.

Today 

What I figured out, exactly a week later: that physical pain is very, very relative, as is the definition of health. I can see a reason to regain my health, outside wanting to get back into my former five mile runs/stay a size 8. I want to be healthy for a role bigger than myself. That Jared and I are in it, even if it’s blood and loss. That this is a loss, no matter when. That Tamara was right — this one forced me to see I want it.

Here's what I don’t get — why this happened? Why it has to be so excruciating, that knife twist of trauma plus physical pain and all that blood that’s still flowing as I write and will continue to for another 10 days or so, a reminder I'm a woman and that we gotta carry so much? I also don't understand why someone would ever try this again, knowing how terribly it might go. Today, I’m trying to let Sunday night become merely a haunting, while grasping at those few Thursday moments at the lake where I believed I was much more than myself. That I could, in fact, be grand.

Nadine Friedman, a writer and photographer focused on compelling social issues, can be read on Nona Brooklyn, F***Ed in Park Slope, BrokeAss Stuart and Biographile. She is currently compiling photographic portraits and biographies of individuals living with MS throughout the United States for a new book.

Photo by fritish.



124 Comments / Post A Comment

Gertrude

Thank you for this. I'm so sorry for your loss.

bluebears

Oh man. This broke my heart. It's amazing how attached you get in just that short period of time, even when it's not planned and you feel ambivalent at first. The disappointment feels absolutely crushing.

ETA: of course not everyone feels attachment/disappointment. I just related.

rimy

This was beautiful and sad. I had a moment where I was very sure/scared to death I was pregnant but it turned out I wasn't. I went through a very similar series of emotions and this brought it all back. I felt this as I was reading it- evocative and heart-wrenching.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Thanks for the honesty. You're a strong lady. Also, your dad sounds rad. So does Jared. I wish you the best.

Hammitt

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose That's what I was thinking - Man, this girl has a LOT of love and great people around her!

Ophelia

This was so well written and heartbreaking. So sorry for your loss, though you bring amazing perspective. Pardon me while I weep on the couch.

tibia

@Ophelia Seconded. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@tibia @ophelia, thank you both for reading, for your kind energy. Things will be ok.

Ophelia

@Nadine Friedman@facebook They will indeed - and it sounds like you've got some amazing people to help make that happen. :)

nonvolleyball

@Nadine Friedman@facebook late to the party, but I finally read this today & it really meant a lot to me--so I wanted to add to the chorus thanking you for writing it.

etheline.

Oh, I'm so sorry.
It's amazing how quickly and how strongly you can grow to love something barely discernible.
I'm days away from hitting the twelve week mark, but at six weeks had an ultrasound where a slow, faint heartbeat was detected. My doctor was cautious and I learned that often, by the standard follow-up a week later, there no longer IS a heartbeat.
My mother-in-law tried to calm me by telling me I didn't really have a baby anyways, just a clump of cells. I'm pro choice, but those words, when used to describe a condition that was a part of ME -- it was infuriating. Yours is still a very real loss to grieve, and I hope you are doing well.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@etheline. Yeah we're cool. Reading things like this comment thread helps. I am glad to know I'm not alone, and to let other women know they aren't It's a taboo, uncomfortable subject but if so many have to go through it, why should we have to go through it alone? I never thought I'd care at all about maternal instincts or admitting I wanted to be a mother, but really, what a learning curve. I am so sending good vibes to your 12 week mark.

MoonBat

@Nadine Friedman@facebook
It's NOT a taboo subject. We have to make it not so. What is the point of having these great womanly hearts, with the ability to withstand so much pain and give so much love, if we aren't sharing those with others? My own heart goes out to you and Jared. Much love to you both in your journey!

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@MoonBat beautifully said!

Yatima

This made me cry.

One of the things my friends and I tell ourselves about the miscarriages is that they are souls that needed to be loved and wanted just once more. I don't know what we mean by that and I don't really believe it's true like science is true, but sometimes I get a little comfort from it.

It's clear that your life is full of love.

planforamiracle

this is so beautiful and really gets at the ambivalence I personally feel about maybe becoming a mother someday.. not having seen it from quite as up-close as you have.

Derbel McDillet

Oh man, this got to me. I have recurrent miscarriages, and though I would love to have a kid, I have greeted each successive pregnancy after the first miscarriage with ambivalence. It's hard not to think "this is going to end in intense physical and emotional pain" when I see that positive.

etheline.

@AconyBelle I'm so sorry. I can't even imagine the storm of emotions that must happen with each subsequent pregnancy.
I hope you get the family you wish for some day.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@AconyBelle I don't even know what to say. I'm so, so sorry at how complex it must be for you each time. I really hope you get everything you want.

bird

Oh boy howdy does this bring up feelings from two years ago-ish. Thank you for writing about the ambivalence and the pain that people don't often talk about. When it happened to us I just knew in my guts that I was pregnant and I was utterly terrified. When I miscarried a couple of weeks later I was too scared to tell anyone so I pumped myself full of painkillers and went to work. I spent most of those two days slumped over my work table trying not to cry.

And now I just told the internet something most of my friends don't even know.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@bird heart ya hard for sharing that. And I'm sorry you went through that alone.

bird

@Nadine Friedman@facebook Thanks. It's been almost two years and neither I nor my husband know how to feel about it. Relieved because we SO weren't ready but then also grief? It's like a Gordian knot of feelings.

chevyvan

@bird Oh baby girl...I do not know you, but I wish I could give you a long, deep hug. And Nadine too. Thank you both for sharing. I just can't imagine...

wee_ramekin

@bird I'm glad you felt comfortable enough to tell us here. It makes me so sad to think of you scared and bleeding at your desk. I hope everything works out for the best for you and your husband.

bird

@wee_ramekin @chevyvan Thanks for being awesome, commenters of the Hairpin. This whole thread has been like a big internet hug.

ipomoea

My heart breaks for you and your family. Even when you're ambivalent/scared/pessimistic, for me, at least, there was a small part that said "but what if? What if it is a good thing?" and it makes a miscarriage hard. I hope you find what you need, and I hope you have friends/a support circle/someone to talk to who's been through it as well, which makes it easier.

Cavendish

I'm so sorry you went through this, but thank you for writing about it so beautifully. Miscarriage is so common, but it's rare to read an account of it that captures the ambivalence and the pain.

I also had a surprise pregnancy this spring, which I miscarried naturally three weeks after discovering it wasn't viable (a situation I described as being a little bit pregnant). Like your friend said, for me it was the impetus to decide I really do want a baby and soon and I'm now about 11 weeks pregnant. Being pregnant after a loss is terrifying, and it took me months for my desire to have a baby was greater than the fear. Good luck to you, whatever you decide in the future.

etheline.

@Cavendish The idea of my body potentially aborting a pregnancy that was simply not viable is one thing that comforts me throughout this first trimester of worrying about miscarriage. It's somewhat calming to think of it as a decision that is out of your hands, like your reproductive system is working to protect you and what would not have grown into a healthy baby.
I wish you good health in this pregnancy.

meatcute

@etheline. That's what I keep telling myself, too. I'm five weeks pregnant — and it's a pregnancy I very much wanted and planned for — and these early weeks are so much scarier than I anticipated.

Jillsy Sloper

This, the whole thing. The ambivalence, the googling, the surprising amount of physical pain. Thank you for being so eloquent about it.

It's good that you told your friends and family so you didn't have to go through it alone. So many people keep early pregnancy and miscarriage to themselves, and I don't know that it's usually the right decision.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@Jillsy Sloper Isn't it strange? How taboo it feels to discuss something like this that leaves women- and their partners-lonely, sad, and kind of defective-feeling? thanks for your kind words.

Bittersweet

@Jillsy Sloper So true. When I got pregnant, I didn't tell my larger circle of friends and family until after the 12-week mark, for that specific reason - I didn't want to have to tell everyone in case I had a miscarriage. But thinking back, it would have been better to share earlier no matter what the outcome. People care about you, and they're there for you, and it's not something to feel defective about, or to feel like you have to keep secret.

(Thanks for this story, Nadine! So beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.)

bluebears

@Jillsy Sloper I get it, to be honest. Maybe it's just my personality but for me having to then have to tell everyone I told, oh no this really kinda devastating thing happened would be, for me, extremely hard. Because of course they'd be very sympathetic and want to be there for me but I honestly wouldn't want to talk about it. At all. Unless I do. You know? It's how I process stuff.

MeghanElizabeth

Oh my God. There's so much good stuff on the Hairpin, but this is my favourite essay in some time. I hope when you decide to try for a baby that you don't have to go through all these ups and downs. Be well.

squeee

I can no longer read these types of articles without making them political. it's because I am terrified to the core of my being that Republicans will gain enough power to turn these kind of personal female narratives—that play out in many different shades all day every day—into a Christian/Puritanical/Legal gameshow, where women lose.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@squeee I can see what you're saying, as I'm diehard pro-choice and lose sleep over the right-wing nutcase caravan Romney could drag into Washington because the majority of the country is pervasively ignorant, racist, misogynistic, or all of the above. So it was even more complicated and difficult for me to admit that I wanted the life/cells/whatever inside me to work out. But in the end, it's an important, emotional and physically difficult experience that a lot of women can relate to, and go through alone, and I'm willing to put my politics aside for a second to talk about it. Ideally, we could get down with Haraway's 'Cyborg Manifesto' and we'd be on a completely level playing field with conservatives and men, but at the moment, I'm just working with what I felt, not what I believed.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Nadine Friedman@facebook "So it was even more complicated and difficult for me to admit that I wanted the life/cells/whatever inside me to work out."

I don't think that sentiment and being pro-choice have to be mutually exclusive. I think your feelings are your own, and they rarely - if ever - parallel everything else in your life. (Sorry if this doesn't make sense; I'm dealing with some Feelings that make little-to-no sense in my life and assume others are too.)

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose exactly right. I remember, at the beginning, thinking "I don't wanna be pregnant. I don't wanna have an abortion. Why won't it just go away?!" when, the day before, I'd been saying an unwanted pregnancy is a no-brainer when it comes to making that kind of decision. When it happens to you, it isn't so easy. I would still fight everyday for a woman's right to choose if (god forbid) this lunatics get the white house or the SC. But you're very right that it's not black and white, and I had to go through it to learn that.

TheBelleWitch

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Agreed! Pro-choice is pro-CHOICE, not pro-destroy-every-embryo-ever. To say a woman should feel bad for caring about her early pregnancy is to walk right into the "feminists hate babies" trap that conservatives would love us to walk into.

Not that I'm saying anyone here is saying that, mind you, because I don't think that's exactly what Squeeee meant. I just see that attitude around sometimes (see etheline's 'clump of cells' story above) and think it's really harmful.

iceberg

@Nadine Friedman@facebook Maybe we feel scared that if we admit that it is (or can be) more than a clump of cells, that it could be something that we care about, that some right-wing nutjob will jump out from behind the couch like "Aha! You just admitted it's the same as a live baby, no abortions ever again for anyone, case closed!"

My perspective got a little complicated with the triplets; at 15 weeks the doctor said we could contemplate "selective reduction" - basically aborting one or more of the three to give the remaining embryos a better chance at survival and a safer pregnancy for all of us. And (complicating factors notwithstanding) even though I am rabidly pro-choice, I couldn't do it. They were already something to me. But I became even more pro-choice; I imagined the woman who sees that gummi bear on the ultrasound and still has to abort. Even if she feels love for that gummi bear, and she has to make a hard choice. Life is too complicated.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@iceberg yes, YES!!! I know there were moments I was like, 'I am being extremely disloyal to my pro-choice values' and then realized it isn't the same thing at all. It's believing in your capacity to love something and build something. I can't imagine what it felt like to go through that kind of choice, that's like TV caliber decision making. I'm so glad you have the family you want, and I despise the Male Conservatives who think this is so fucking easy.

iceberg

@Nadine Friedman@facebook Some a-hole dude on a friend's facebook thread was saying how he personally believes that a fetus is the same as a live baby and abortion is murder etc etc and I was like, well isn't it lucky you'll literally never have to face an unwanted pregnancy?

I actually think it can be a more loving choice to abort in some circumstances. Like, a friend of mine who was a drug addict. she chose to have an abortion when she got pregnant to her on/off jerkass boyfriend. Now she is clean/sober and married to a great guy, and she will be a great mom when she's ready, because she wants to be and now she can be. and having that first baby would have ruined all their lives, the child's arguably most of all.

HeyThatsMyBike

@iceberg I think you hit the nail on the head right here: "Maybe we feel scared that if we admit that it is (or can be) more than a clump of cells, that it could be something that we care about, that some right-wing nutjob will jump out from behind the couch like 'Aha! You just admitted it's the same as a live baby, no abortions ever again for anyone, case closed!'"
It's important to point out that you absolutely do not have to surrender your pro-choice card if you decide that you want to continue a pregnancy you did not plan or develop strong feeling for your clump of cells. That's what the "choice" part is all about!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@iceberg Yes. This is exactly it. Well said.

KatieWK

@squeee I was in a very similar situation to Nadine when I was in college, but in the two days between finding out I was pregnant and miscarrying, I was set on having an abortion, even though I had a fully supportive partner. Years later, he and I are still together, but I have never looked back at the plan I had and thought I might change it. This is not meant to delegitimize Nadine’s and other’s loss, which is heartbreaking—I’m just saying, for some people the end of a pregnancy produces more relief than grief.

If anything, I think Nadine’s story makes a better case than my own for why choice is so important to defend: because when put in that tough, unimaginable moment, some of us will feel compelled to do the exact opposite of what we always thought we’d do. For Nadine it was keeping the baby, but in just as many (more?) cases it’s a vaguely or staunchly pro-life woman wanting or needing an abortion. At the end of the day, it seems like Nadine had supportive, nonjudgmental doctors, which is what we should all be fighting for.

PS Nadine, thank you for writing this.

iceberg

@KatieWK YES. many different perspectives.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@iceberg @katieWK how lucky I am to get an education in/live in New York City, where the concepts of access and choice often go without saying, and of course, we can have intelligent discourse about these issues. Women in the same country I live in have the opposite circumstances, and when this happens, they're trapped one way or another. It makes me sick. But, this experience gave me a great deal of compassion for those whose decision isn't so cut and dry. For that few days, intellectually I was like, 'great, it's my choice'. Deep down, the implications of ' it's my choice' made me feel fucking awful.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Nadine Friedman@facebook I think conversations that highlight how not-cut-and-dry major decisions can be are very important. I also think it's important to discuss issues like miscarriages because the women in my life who have had them just sort of suffer silently. We need more, intelligent, emotional discourse.

Regina Phalange

@Nadine Friedman@facebook You know, I think I once read something along the lines of, "If the discourse around abortion cannot withstand the fullness of women's experiences, then we must make it stronger." Denying our own (and others') experiences in "service" of "something greater" ultimately does not serve us at all.

Thank you for writing this. Sending all kinds of good thoughts your way.

wee_ramekin

@icebergie What you said about us being afraid of a rabid anti-choicer jumping out and screaming "Gotcha!" is dead on. It also makes me realize how much they have framed the debate, when pro-choice women start to feel guilty for actually wanting to carry a surprise pregnancy to term.

We've had to batten down the hatches against trans-vaginal ultrasounds, abortion bans, attacks on Planned Parenthood, "legitimate rape" claims, and religious opposition to contraception. We've had to fight for so long for such obvious, basic rights to reproductive choice that it takes a moment to re-frame and realize that this fight is about OUR CHOICE, and that choice includes bearing a child just as much as it includes abortion. <3 u so hard, girl.

squeee

@Nadine Friedman@facebook , these things MUST be personal and in your own control, not interfered with in any way or in any direction by clueless politicians. reading about your turmoil just further proves how complex and fiercely intimate events like this are. thanks again for your story, and sorry you went through such stress :/

D.@twitter

@wee_ramekin I've been thinking a lot about this, b/c initially, my same reaction was the same as @squeee. It HAS to be a cluster of cells, nothing more. Having feelings simply legitimizes the argument of the far Right. But then, I realized, it's the EXPECTATION we are mourning, not an actual, physical baby. To fully illustrate the fallacy inherent in anti-choice "logic," indulge me in a long metaphor, if you will:
Imagine you are going to take an amazing journey to China (sure.). Maybe you've been planning this trip for a really long time, maybe it came as a surprise after you won a picture contest in some in-flight publication. The point is, in 9 months you're going to be in China, and you're REALLY excited. You're going to walk along the Great Wall, visit the Forbidden City, chill with the terracotta warriors, get silk goods for a really low price. You're also nervous: you don't speak the language or know your way around. Some of your friends have been to China. They have some mixed feelings about their visits, but overall they're thrilled that you're going to go as well.
But then, something happens. You don't get to go to China; you never even make it to the airport. This is crushingly disappointing. You've already IMAGINED yourself strolling through Hangzhou, sipping some longjing, accidentally running into Jet Li. Maybe you've read some books about China; maybe you've tried to learn the language. You're armed with advice from friends about where to go, what to do. Now, though, those dreams are dashed. You're not going to go on this journey; not this time. This being the case, it would be ABSURD to argue that you in fact did go to China. You patently did not go. Yet, that in itself is still sad, and you're allowed to mourn the lost opportunity. China itself is not particularly upset about your absence; it does not even know who you are; it's not the one who has been doing research, making preparations. China is not a person; you are. Maybe someday you'll join the other travelers going to China, but not today.

ThatWench

@iceberg I'll add another voice applauding the couch-jumping-aha-moment image, as the right-on-point description of the situation.

For me, the clearest... summary? metaphor?... of it all was the shtick the Daily Show did at the '08 RNC convention. The correspondents went around trying to convince/trick people into using the word "choice" to describe Sarah Palin choosing to carry a special-needs pregnancy to term. So for me, it's: "Sarah Palin exercised her right to choose, so that's all that the rest of us want to do." If my couch conservative is so certain that I'll grow attached to the little zygote, why should he need to take away that choice?

Of course, it's all hypothetical for me. So I'll also join those thanking you for writing about all of this, and send you my deepest sympathies.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@ThatWench Did you see Sam Bee at the RNC this year? It was hilarious, and ghastly. "Personal liberty is the hallmark of our civilization, no question about that". "Except in the case of abortion?" "Except in the case of abortion, exactly".

http://www.salon.com/2012/08/30/must_see_morning_clip_20/

TheBelleWitch

Thank you for this. The last two paragraphs, especially, really struck me. So sorry for what you've gone through.

I'm 7 weeks along -- ambiguously pregnant is how I'm thinking of it -- and only my husband and I know. Even my OB/GYN doesn't want to see me until 8 weeks. It's a weird place to be in, trying not to think ahead too much or get attached to the idea.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@TheBelleWitch best of luck to you on this, I'm sending you heart vibes.

iceberg

Wow. This is so moving, and one of the reasons why I love the Hairpin, for being the place where we can have these stories.

Myrtle

Breathing out my own held-in grief... Maybe this is some sort of fetal fly-by/worker bee who's checked you out and pronounced you good to go. It was a hard journey for you, and I admire your courage and big heart to share this with us. And hugs to Jared.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@Myrtle i LOVE the idea of a fetal fly-by. That's brilliant.

grizzle_bees

This was beautifully written, and so breathtakingly honest. Thank you for sharing your story, and I'm so glad a place like The Hairpin exists where you can share such a story. YOU GUYS.

breeandcrackers

@shart_attack Very very moving. So much love sent your way, Nadine and Jared.

Blondsak

I completely relate to those shaking hands when you took that test - sometimes with some things, you just KNOW before you know. I took the other route in the end, being 20, barely at the beginning of a (then undefined) relationship and feeling there really was no other option for me. But my hat is off to you for taking the time to figure out what it was that you truly wanted and felt able to do. Now you know what you want, and next time, when you KNOW before you know, you will also know you are strong enough to try this once more, because you do truly want this. Best of luck.

EmmaBlogs

I don't know how to express my love for this vignette beyond what's already been said: it's beautiful, wonderfully honest, moving. Now I'm awkwardly half-crying at work. Thanks for sharing your story, and I hope the next time around (if you choose to have a next time) isn't a repeat event.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@EmmaBlogs guuuuurl... me too. Thank you for your kind words. And if you can, use the crying to your advantage and get out of work early.

PatatasBravas

Thanks so much for sharing your story.

I don't think there's enough conversation around pregbivalence, nor enough about miscarriages. It's not anybody's responsibility to share their story, but I whole-heartedly welcome all of the people who do want to talk about it.

Thanks thanks thanks, and a whole mess of hugs if you want them, and I also would send high-fives to Jared and your dad and your doctors for being good to you.

PatatasBravas

@PatatasBravas self! stop being weirdly teary!

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@PatatasBravas thanks to you! it means a lot to be a participant in this kind of conversation. you need to copyright pregbivalence. it's going to shake the whole thing up.

HeyThatsMyBike

@PatatasBravas Really not enough conversation around miscarriages. I honestly had no idea how common early miscarriages were until recently, as I've hit the age where my friends have started to try to have children. Seriously, I know it is an EXTREMELY sensitive and personal topic and all, and like you am not saying that it is everyone's responsibility to tell us about their experiences, but I feel like maybe the world should be more aware that this is a thing that happens and you're far from alone if/when it does. Like, could this be more carefully emphasized in health class or something?

theotherginger

@HeyThatsMyBike yes. I only know about this because my family is really open, and because my church from growing up has had funerals for miscarried babies. anyway, thank you Nadine, for sharing your story, so so much.

LetTheMysteryBe

I had three of these, at 9 weeks, 12 weeks and 6 weeks. I had forgotten, largely, all about the losses....though now I can hear the voice of the on-call OB-Gyn, saying he was sorry. I was curled up in a ball on the couch.
After those losses came three children: girl, boy, girl. Life, huh...
Good writing, Nadine.

polka dots vs stripes

Thanks, Nadine, for the reminder that we are never alone, despite how taboo/sensitive/difficult the subject is - someone else can always relate to you. I love the internet for that.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@polka dots vs stripes it's wild, reading these comments, seeing how many women have to go through the complicated emotions, the matter of choice, the sense of excitement and then loss. I mean, this is a LOT of people who don't really have anyone to talk about this with. I'm really lucky someone's willing to let me share my story. thanks to you for ya know, being on here and saying hey. it's a great community.

glow bug

I am so sorry for your loss, and thank you for writing such an honest, beautiful piece.

At 33 weeks tomorrow I feel very grateful to have passed the point where my fetus is officially viable outside my womb. My husband and I each told only one close friend before the 12-week mark, because at that point while I was definitely physically pregnant and feeling all sorts of nauseous and tired and crazy, the miscarriage possibilities were looming.

Anyway, I also wanted to confirm what your OB said. That even when a pregnancy is wanted and planned, it's never EXACTLY the right time, there are always fears and nagging worries and concerns and running thoughts like "maybe we were too hasty! This is happening too fast!" Even a slight hope that it wouldn't work out...that we could go back to the wanting stage which was a lot less frightening a place to be.

Also, keep taking those prenatal vitamins...it's good to have a buildup of folic acid in your system for whenever the chance comes again.

Katy

Thanks for writing this. It was such a brave narrative. I have been trying and failing to get pregnant for years now, and it's a nice reminder that this whole ordeal of being a woman is hard for everyone, and it's not all black and white. I wish you the best and know, when it does happen again, you will be a great mother. The love and bravery you provided in that short (long?) week already shows it. So sorry for your loss.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@Katy i really, really hope you get the family you want.

theotherginger

@Katy oh. I hope that you get to have that. even the comments are making me teary now.

ellochka

I have chronic Lyme, too (and I live in the city, we probably know some of the same doctors), and I'm so sorry for your loss. I don't know what it's like to go through what you've written so eloquently about here, but I do know what special kind of hell Lyme and its treatment can be (I'm currently finishing up a ten-month stint on various IV antibiotics via PICC line before my insurance cuts off in January).

I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of supporting ones here, and to offer whatever kind of empathy I can. Good luck with everything, really.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@ellochka oh man, am I sorry to hear you're going through that. And hope you're feeling better. I'm on the last protocol before a PICC and I am not psyched about the prospect. it's weird you mention this, bc since this happened, I've been trying to go back to the anxiety, the stress, the deep seated panic of worrying just about the Lyme and it's not really there. Maybe it's good, maybe it's perspective. I'm really hoping you're recovering well.

ellochka

I'm doing pretty well, thank you! I did eight weeks on Tygacil this summer, which was absolutely miserable and frequently vomit-inducing, but more importantly seems to have WORKED. I didn't think I'd ever recover, and now I only get like that on my very lowest days.

The PICC isn't as bad as it seems. If that's what you choose next, I promise you can do it. I have a fantastic team of my doctor, PA, and nurse, and it sounds like you have great people too.

Thank you so much for your nice wishes. I hope your recovery picks up, too. Also, weird as it sounds, it was nice to talk to you about this. So few people get it.

sophia_h

This happened to me twice in the last three months, the first time just a few weeks after being diagnosed with MS, and I've actually had a draft of an article I was going to submit here written for weeks. I'm... glad, I think, that I don't need to finish and send it in now, because it was heart wrenching when I was writing it after the first one and worse when I went back to look it after the second one.

At some point when I've got more emotional fortitude I'll read all the comments here, because feeling alone is the worst part of it. You can see all the people who are pregnant and who have children, but you don't know who else has gone through this unless they tell you. So thank you for sharing and opening up this space.

wee_ramekin

@sophia_h I'm so sorry the last few months have been so heart-wrenching for you. I've seen a lot of supportive comments and shared experiences on this thread; hopefully you'll find comfort here when you're ready to read it.

Sending good thoughts your way <3.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@sophia_h I'm so sorry to hear about both the miscarriage and the diagnosis. it's coincindental you mention that; my mother passed away from PP MS after 20 years with it. That was one of the biggest contributors to my ambivalance about the whole thing. But I do understand how it would change the pressure around when getting pregnant is possible, how stressful it will be, etc. MS is unpredictable and very scary in thst way. On the bright side, most women become asymptomatic during pregnancy so it's certainly something to look forward to.
I can't imagine how to handle 2 in 3 months. Once in a lifetime is waaaaaaay enough. Sending love your way.

noodge

@sophia_h I'm so sorry you feel alone, and when you muster the strength to read the comments, you'll have a real comprehension of what good company you're in. I'm so sorry, but am glad you have a place to talk about it, since it seems like NOBODY wants to hear about it in one's day to day life. seriously taboo.

<3

sophia_h

@wee_ramekin Thanks so much for your nice comment. It's been a sucky few months (other stuff happened besides the health issues), and I definitely have felt on my own in the real world. Reading back over the comments was really good for me.

sophia_h

@Nadine Friedman@facebook Thanks for responding -- and so sorry to hear about your mother. My diagnosis is still pretty new and I admit I'm not really dealing with it, because I've had a lot of upheaval in my life this year and it seemed like Just One More Thing, you know? But I have heard about people becoming asymptomatic during pregnancy and definitely hold out hope for that. :)

sophia_h

@teenie It's true, it's such a taboo subject, and it actually made me talk about it MORE, I'm sure to the discomfort of my friends. But I was like, dammit, someday you or someone you know will go through this and you'll be glad you know the story of someone else who did too.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@sophia_h I definitely hear you about the One More Thing bit. I just ope you have a great network around you. You certainly do here!

minty fresh

I had my first miscarriage on Thanksgiving of 2009, and I was completely devastated. It was an early miscarriage, but I felt such a deep and real loss. My OB told me to try again immediately, that the body works very well after a miscarriage. And, I got pregnant again that December. I didn't even have a period between the miscarriage and the new pregnancy. My son was born September of 2010. He's awesome. This summer we decided it was time for baby number two. We got pregnant. We miscarried. And again, without a period between, I got pregnant again. Now we're at about 12 weeks, and I'm feeling good about it.

So, I don't know what I'm saying here. People don't talk enough about miscarriages. It's so common. This is my story and how my body works.

lanelese@twitter

I am so sorry for your loss. I had a miscarriage last year, after having taken a pregnancy test not 48 hours earlier. It is amazing how quickly you can fall in love with an idea, and how devastating it is when you realize you're flushing that idea down the toilet. Be good to you.

noodge

i actually avoided this article, because i'm sensitive to reading about other people becoming pregnant. I bit the bullet, and am so glad I did. You painted the multitude of emotions over unexpected pregnancy and loss excruciatingly well. thank you for sharing.

over the course of my adult life, i've lost 6 pregnancies. 4 of them with my current husband, because I'd been told I was essentially infertile, and wasn't using birth control (in hind-sight, because I was really depressed about the diagnosis).

I now have an IUD, but we want to try again once my nursing school is wrapping up. surprisingly, that prospect isn't looming over my head the way it used to. I also have (atypical, thin body type) PCOS and in the last year discovered my personal silver bullet for it: exercise, at least 4-5 times weekly for a half hour each time. my cycles are like clockwork for the first time in EVER. and if it comes down to it and we miscarry again and again (two times is our predetermined limit of how many more times we can handle the heartbreak) then we're both eager to adopt.

I wish you luck! it takes immense amounts of strength to weather what you two have gone through! <3

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@teenie I am so sorry to hear that news and grateful you took the time to read. I can't ever, ever imagine what going through that again would be like...honestly, it makes me never want to really try to get pregnant. I mean, this time was a total accident and I still felt a hole. I really hope you get the family you deserve.

LydiaBennett

@teenie I want to find a personal PCOS silver bullet!! I guess I just need to stop feeling sorry for myself and actually try tackling it. Also had an abnormal pap, subsequent colposcopy, resulting in finding CIN III cell changes, so am about to have a LEEP. Basically feeling like I couldn't get pregnant even if I wanted to, am desperately sad about that, but would be terrified/not ready/not responsible/financially solvent/mature enough to be pregnant even if I COULD conceive. FEELINGS.

noodge

@LydiaBennett well, for starters, don't stress too much about the LEEP! that won't impact your fertility per se, you just need to let your doctor know when you get prego so they can take precautionary measures if needed once your pregnancy advances.

I stumbled on my exercise "cure" after taking an honest look at my health trends and my cycle trends... my cycles were really great when I was in a dance company for about 6 months, then after I quit they started getting wonky again, and I thought maybe it was my diet, or my stress, or something... but then I saw the possibility of an exercise correlation, and started working out - not giving myself any excuses. and voila! it really is a self-love thing, and THAT is probably the hardest part. there is a part of every person that feels like sitting in, watching movies, is better self love than leaving the house to push yourself physically, but that part of me is slowly dying, and i love it. i still struggle with some of the symptoms (lots of fine vellous hair on my face) but my acne is clear, my cycles are solid, and I'm literally chomping at the bit to try the baby thing again. I'll probably talk to my doctor about starting Metformin a few months prior to getting my iud out (it creates better outcomes statistically with pcos patients) and i'll just keep up the exercise and good eating and frequent meditation... they all seem to be helping me find balance.

GOOD LUCK TO YOU! this can cause tons of feelings, so thanks for sharing them! again, don't fret about the stuff like LEEPs, many many women have gone through that and had healthy happy babies.

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@teenie this is great advice. I let my concerns go, never bothered with birth control, as I've never had any symptoms but the missed cycles. Will try to take it more seriously- now that I know I CAN conceive, maybe the PCOS affects the carrying to term. Dunno. @lydiabennett I hope you find what works for you.

noodge

@Nadine Friedman@facebook
Absolutely! the androgen activity in PCOS has a negative impact on egg quality - and many early losses (like mine, and it sounds like yours) are a result of egg quality issues. Take your time, to heal, but hopefully all the comments have helped you feel some hope :-)

Talea Devon@facebook

So sorry to hear of your loss! This brought tears to my eyes. I too went through this last year in July. Went to the hospital and they told me that I had a miss miscarriage (meaning that I could've been pregnant but my body rejected it). I was confused about the whole situation but my husband and I kept trying, regardless of our financial situation (which wasn't the best at that time; we got married without having jobs)!

When I woke up on 11/11/11 morning, and could barely get out of bed, and was so eager to go to work, I tried to push pass the pain. My husband made me go to the hospital and I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant. Later on, they told me that my cervix wasn't closed and I was going to have a threaten miscarriage; they sent me home with that news! I was so mad at God and was wondering why would you take something away when I saw the heartbeat and thought everything was okay! My husband and I went home, prayed, and cried. I thank Good for a second opinion! Come to find out, I had polyps on my cervix and they weren't cancerous! I had the spotting scare one morning and we prayed and I also talked to my doctor, which told me it was normal.

As you can see, I gave birth to a healthy, 6lb 7oz boy by emergency c-section at 38 weeks 5 days! He's now15 lbs and so alert! Be encouraged and when the time is right, you'll get pregnant again!

Nadine Friedman@facebook

@Talea Devon@facebook That is a great story, and I hope others on here read it. There are plenty of women who have had this terrible experience, sometimes multiple times, and it's hard to be optimistic about the 'next time'. Thank you for this. And he looks so cool!

yarabollocks

I composed and erased at least five different comments, but didn't want to walk on by without commenting and saying thank you.
I agree with the comments above; there aren't enough people talking about pregnancies that didn't turn out the way you thought/hoped they would -- whatever that may mean for you. I hope writing it out helped you heal a little. <3

myshone

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myshone

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